As it turns out the Florida Marlins had suspected the Phillies were guilty of stealing signs long before the Philadelphia bullpen coach was caught gazing through binoculars at Coors Field earlier in the week, which has led to a reprimand from Major League Baseball.
“We’ve always had our suspicions,” said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said that the way the tiered bullpens are configured in Philadelphia, with one on top of the other behind the center field wall, their suspicions reached a point last season where bullpen coach Steve Foster and bullpen catcher Pierre Arsenault looked over the top and inside the Phillies pen to make sure they weren’t stealing signs from that vantage point.
“We never caught anybody,” Gonzalez said. “But we had our suspicions. It’s so easy. It’s so tempting.”
Interestingly enough, the Marlins went 7-2 in Philadelphia last season.
Catcher John Baker said suspicions that the Phillies were stealing signs started in 2008.
“Some of their guys took some strange swings at some pitches that went against the scouting report, that were really surprising,” Baker said. “(Former pitching coach) Mark Wiley and I had a sense that they knew what was coming that pitch, even when there was nobody on second base. It could have been great hitting and they guessed right.”
I know, I know. Everybody steals signs, as Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News points out, and everybody is looking for any advantage they can get. But the use of technology is what has irked Rockies’ skipper Jim Tracy.
Similar to the New England Patriots’ Spygate scandal in 2007, the use of synthetic devices escalates an otherwise routine occurrence into a national news event.
Billmeyer says he was simply trying to monitor the defensive positioning of Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo. As unrealistic as it seems, that’s his explanation and he’s sticking to it.
There’s been some back and forth in the days following the release of the video, but the buzz off the field is likely to end right here.
On the field buzzings, however, could be an entirely different story.